British tourists have been evacuated from the Florida Keys and the low-lying areas around the resorts of St Petersburg and Clearwater as fears grow that Tropical Storm Fay could turn into a hurricane.


The evacuation order was given yesterday and a state of emergency has been announced. Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist warned that Tropical Storm Fay threatens to unleash a “major disaster” although he insisted Florida was prepared.


The tropical storm’s centre has already crossed Florida Key West with winds of 60mph and it is thought the wind speed could increase to 74mph by the time Fay strikes the Florida peninsula.


Crist added 500 national guard members have already been deployed across the state with a further 8,500 on standby.


Other than those evacuated, UK tour operators said the storm is not threatening progammes at the moment although they are continuing to monitor the situation.


An ABTA spokesman said: “They are very used to dealing with bad weather and the hotels are built to withstand these kinds of problems.”


However, cruise lines have been forced to adjust their Caribbean itineraries because of Fay.


Carnival has changed the itineraries of at least four ships in the area, while at least three Royal Caribbean ships and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky are affected.